CBIA BizCast: Talking Manufacturing with RSM’s Dan Wheadon

“What does that big picture look like? And what type of skilled workforce do we need in order to sort of support that?” says RSM’s Dan Wheadon.

Manufacturers are dealing with significant change and an uncertain economy.

After moderating a panel of business leaders at the Oct. 11 Made in Connecticut: 2023 Manufacturing Summit, RSM partner Dan Wheadon sat down with the CBIA BizCast to break down the results of the 2023 Connecticut Manufacturing Report.

“The manufacturing industry is really going through a pretty significant change in recent years with industry 4.0, and a number of new technologies out there, and now the emergence of AI and machine learning,” Wheadon said. 

The report was produced by CBIA and affiliates CONNSTEP and ReadyCT and made possible with support from RSM.

Among the findings: 86% of manufacturers report difficulty finding/and or retaining employees, with 48% calling the issue the greatest growth challenge.

Workforce Development

Wheadon cited an aging workforce and a need to train more skilled workers as adding to the challenges for manufacturers.

“What does that big picture look like?” he said. “And what type of skilled workforce do we need in order to sort of support that? And how do we provide the appropriate training for our people?”

“What does that big picture look like?”

RSM’s Dan Wheadon

He said it’s important for the state to incentivize schools and organizations to engage with trade schools and training programs to build a skilled workforce that can leverage new technologies and drive innovation.

“Being able to flex the workforce a little bit, cross train across multiple, different areas, is really critical,” he said. 

Rising Costs

As  manufacturers look to innovate and invest in new technologies, they are also dealing with rising costs.

The report found 91% of manufacturing leaders feel the cost of doing business is increasing. 

“I think that is something that a lot of these manufacturers need to continue to think about on a day to day, month to month, year to year basis,” Wheadon said. 

“A lot of companies out there have to continue to think about the long term.”


“I would like to say that things are not going to get more expensive, but I think us as consumers, we see that every day when you go to the grocery store.”

Wheadon said RSM clients struggle with setting capital investment priorities.

“A lot of companies out there have to continue to think about the long term and ‘How do we remain competitive in the environment that we are in?’” he said.

Continuous Improvement

One way of doing that, Wheadon said, is utilizing technology and artificial intelligence as a means of continuous improvement.

He said all organizations should focus on “’How do we continuously improve the way that we do things, so that we can service our customers more effectively?’”

“It’s no longer kind of a nice to have, but more of a I have to have,” he added.

“Some of the best ideas I’ve ever seen have come from very low levels of the organization.”


As companies focus on innovating and improving, Wheadon said it’s important to embrace collaboration and teamwork across the organization. 

“Some of the best ideas I’ve ever seen have come from very low levels of the organization,” he said.

“People raising their hand and saying, ‘Hey, have we ever thought about doing this a different way?’ and challenging the status quo .”

“I do think that’s a really important component to driving high performing teams and high performing organizations is that there’s really no really no hierarchy, no borders.”

The CBIA BizCast is made possible through the generous support of Google. Please rate, review, and subscribe to the BizCast wherever you get your podcasts—we appreciate your support! If you have a story to tell, contact Amanda Marlow.


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